Don’t blog about how a shady production company tried to rip you off for $25,000 or they’ll sue you for $20 million. Vision Media Television is one of several different alleged ripoff artists who frequently target non-profit and socially-aware groups, promising a big TV special aired on PBS and/or other major networks showcasing the group. The show is supposedly anchored by ex-20/20 anchor Hugh Downs and will reach millions upon millions of people. The catch? The organization has to pay for the production costs up-front, which run into the tens of thousands of dollars…and the show never goes on TV.
Complaints litter the internet about this company and its ilk. Some say that if you’re lucky, you end up with a stack of shoddily-made DVDs, a documentary that never airs at all, and none of the promised PR.
And after one blogger, Leslie Richards, a small eco-fashion business owner, wrote about an attempted shakedown by Vision Media Television, they sued her for $20 million, saying the blog post cost them $5 million in lost business and seeking $15 million in punitive damages.
The lawsuit is filed in the Southern District of Florida, a bit of a problem for her as she’s based in North Carolina and doesn’t have a car or much money. Leslie told the Mountain Xpress, “Who has $20 million? At $20 million, legal-aid organizations generally won’t help you. Since it’s filed in the Southern District of Florida, not a lot of lawyers here are licensed to practice there…I don’t have a car, I don’t have money, so we’re trying to get it transferred here so I can find someone to represent me pro bono.”
Any pro-bono lawyers out there who want to help Leslie out can contact her at email@example.com.
Vision Media Television defends its actions, saying that it only distributes the programs to public television stations, which air them at their “discretion,” and blames its “customers” for confusing public television with PBS. Judging by the fact that PBS has an explicit disclaimer on its website denying any relationship between itself and Vision Media Television and other similar groups, this appears to be a confusion that Vision Media Television is not, shall we say, working very hard to erase.
Other production groups to watch out for: New Line Media TV, New Line Media, Platinum Television Group, PTG Studios, Paradigm Media Group, PMG, PMGTV, Infinity Media Group, Roadshow Productions, Family Television Studios, United Media Communications Group, American Review TV, Business Break TV, Event Media TV, and Global Television Studios.
I wonder if Vision Media Television, based in Boca Raton, Florida, a known haven for spammers, scammers, telemarketers,identity thieves, and other various ne’re-do-wellers, will also be suing the New York Times, which just ran an article exposing the company and its brethren.
Scam Taking Advantage of Green Businesses [The Öko Box]
Company Pitches a Television Production, and Nonprofit Groups Are Wary [NYT]
Local Business Owner Sued For 20 Million Over Blog Post [Mountainx]
Blogger Sued 20 Million [Blogher]
Eco Clothing Store Owner Sued For 20m After Exposing Scam [Earthfirst]
Platinum Television Group Complaints [Ripoff Report]
New Line Media Complaints [Ripoff Report]